ED arrests CPM leader in Karuvannur scam

ED arrests CPM leader in Karuvannur scam
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The court remanded Wadakancherry municipal health standing committee chairman Aravindakshan P R in judicial custody. It will consider ED’s petition seeking their custody on Wednesday.

KOCHI:  In the first political arrest in the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank loan scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has taken a local CPM leader into custody. The central agency arrested Wadakancherry municipal health standing committee chairman Aravindakshan P R on Tuesday. The bank’s former senior accountant C K Jils has also been nabbed.

Aravindakshan, a member of the CPM Athani local committee, is said to be a close aide of former minister A C Moideen, MLA, who was interrogated by the ED earlier. According to the agency, Aravindakshan was associated with prime accused and money lender Satheeshkumar, who using benami borrowers availed loans from the bank.

In a report filed at the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Kochi, ED stated that an analysis of Aravindakshan’s dealings revealed large-scale cash transactions in his bank account from 2015 to 2017. The CPM leader had said that the source of income was the honorarium received as a councillor of the Wadakancherry municipality.

However, even after repeated requests, he has not given a copy of his income tax returns. Investigation revealed that Aravindakshan has knowingly accepted the proceeds of crime of more than Rs 50 lakh. Also, Satheeshkumar has invested the proceeds of crime in various benami businesses and properties through Aravindakshan, the report stated. The agency estimates that more than Rs 300 crore was swindled from the bank after bogus loans were granted to several persons.

Aravindakshan, Jils in judicial custody

The court remanded Aravindakshan and Jils in judicial custody. It will consider ED’s petition seeking their custody on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the ED team led by investigation officer S G Kavitkar reached the residence of Aravindakshan and took him into custody. “This is a politically motivated move by ED. I have no involvement in the case,” Aravindakshan told reporters outside the ED office in Kochi. In a report filed before the PMLA Special Court earlier, the ED stated that Aravindakshan intermediated Satheeshkumar to acquire documents of borrowers mortgaged at the bank for receiving the loan. ED suspects that he is the link between Satheeshkumar and Moideen.

The report said Satheeshkumar was aided by Aravindakshan and CPM Wadakkancherry councillor, Madhu, in the money lending business worth around Rs 500 crore. “The loan defaulters were threatened by Satheeshkumar’s goons and such acts have been intermediated by Aravindakshan and Madhu, both members of CPM,” stated the report. Karuvanur bank manager Biju M K has also given a statement against Aravindakshan to ED.

He deposed that he and his family were threatened by Aravindakshan and Madhu asking to put Rs 50 lakh as a fixed deposit in their name from the loans disbursed to Satheeshkumar, the ED report said. A witness had also deposed that Kiran P P of Perinjanam, who was arrested earlier, had once reached Karuvannur bank with Aravindakshan to receive around Rs 3 crore loan. The amount was given in cash in a bag. Kiran had reportedly swindled Rs 14 crore, said the report.

Last week, Aravindakshan filed a complaint at the Ernakulam Central police station stating he was tortured by the ED officials during interrogation. Though the police conducted a preliminary probe into the complaint, a case has not yet been registered. C K Jils was earlier nabbed by the Crime Branch probing the cheating case. Jils allegedly swindled around Rs 5.75 crore from the bank diverting loans in the name of other persons. He worked at the bank from 2010 to 2018.

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